I've noticed so many of you who have left the church seem to have lost your belief in God. I feel like I'm having a hard time fitting in because I do still believe in God or in something bigger than us...just that I have to believe in something. I'm struggling a bit now with this so I may babble. I've started researching other religions/beliefs, trying to find something that feels right to me. Sometimes I wonder if I feel I have to believe in something because I am so afraid of death. Or because it's been so ingrained in me my whole life. I have major issues with organized religion. I don't want to be "shopping" for something. I love the peaceful feeling that Buddhism and Wicca brings. I read a Bible verse a day and there is so much violence or vengeance. Yet I remember one time crying because I wondered what I had done to deserve something so good that had come into my life and I heard a voice clearly saying "Don't you think I know what you need?" - was that God? It's such a confusing time for me and I wonder how you all handle it because I know you have all been through something similar.
Sorry for the rambling...it's the only way I know how to write, to just let it come out with my thoughts.
This is one of the things that I struggle with on a daily basis. I believe that there is a God. I find the idea that there is not a God to be inconceivable; there has to be a God. There must be a higher order with some higher purpose to life.
One of the things that has always bothered me is that the atheists that I have met always seem to have high moral standards. If there is no god, why have any morals at all? If there is no god, or afterlife, then where is the value in being a good person? Why not spend your time in selfish pursuits; eat, drink, and be merry, tomorrow you'll be dead, with no lasting consequences after death.
I also tend to like Buddhism, and Wicca/Pagan ideals. I am definitely not a Christian, but, I am inclined to believe in some sort of eternal progression. If there were no God, I would have killed myself years ago due to the pointlessness of life. It is knowing that there is a God that keeps me alive. It is knowing that there is a God that makes me want to be a better person.
I will turn around the question...Why do we assume that morals come from God?
Could it be as simple as: living in a certain way brings fulfillment today--without a need for the promise of eventual heaven or the threat of hell. Certain actions bring certain consequences--living selfishly means you live without friends or a community. We need communities--we are humans, not lizards. Why would I want to injure my body with drugs or steal from my community, when my community helps me survive and ensures my children will? I dont believe we have a natural desire to be selfish--I think the Bible got that one dead wrong.
Humans have a natural desire to empathize and want to love and to belong. Just look at the people around you? Who isnt ultimately looking for love? This is why so many people seek to join a religious group despite all of the evidence against that religion's beliefs--it is our fundamental need to belong and our natural desire for love.
Neurologists can even prove this apparently-- (this is an execellent video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7AWnfFRc7g
A lot of moral behavior is simply necessary for groups to function. So every society has come up with a way to codify and pass down moral behavior--as we globalize we see some of that moral behavior has a common core and some of it conflicts. Look at India--the Hindus and Muslims have many differences, but one thing they both agree on is love of family.
Most groups claim the source of that moral code is 'God', probably because we are barely advancing enough to understand our own brains and bodies--so of course people attributed large forces to some outside force that resembled a human (or other being found in nature). How could we know otherwise? (Notice that every time humans dont understand the cause of something they put the label God on it--first it was Lighting and Thunder, then it was "the black plague", then it was the "God Particle").
What Buddhist and Peagan ideals do you like?
I think if you take some time and get to know a few "atheists" such as myself, you might realize we are not as far apart as you originally thought. Just because a person calls himself atheist and claims no belief in god, doesn't mean that the person is convinced about his beliefs.
I think part of our upbringing as Mormons ingrains us with the concept that anything you believe in you "know it is true". Mormons are dead wrong in that notion. They don't "know" their beliefs are true, they are just pretending to know. Belief is not knowledge.
Lack of belief in a god is no more knoledge of that god's non-existence, than belief in a god is knowledge of that god's existence.
You as a believer in a god /higher power, and me as an atheist, both struggle with the same existential questions. I admit that I would like to believe that there is something else out there, some form of my consciousness that carries on after I die. And in that sense I think our desires of belief are the same.
The only area where we appear to differ is the final choice of belief. I have chosen to believe, and live my life, as though there is no god, because my own personal life experience, what I've learned, and my understanding of the world, has led me to believe that there is no god.
So, you see, you and I are not that different.
I would like to propose an experiment for you: Try living for one year, in your current belief system, doing everything that you normally do, religiously, spiritually, or whatever. THEN try living one year as if there is no god, no spirit, etc.; taking no part in spiritual activities, religion, prayer/meditation, but living every other aspect of your life as you normally would (job, family interaction, spending habits, etc.). Then, once you've completed the two years, see if there is any difference between the two. If one turns out significantly better than the other (barring freak accidents, injury, etc.), then go with whatever method worked better. But if there is no significant difference between the two, then I would follow the principles of Ockham's Razor in determining how to live my life.
I am of the opinion that there is no god, but I can't say I believe that there isn't a god with any certainty or that there is a god, because I simply don't know. However, a facebook friend today posted to her status update the following indicating her belief the god exists.
"Greatful to god for his miracles, my niece is recovering nicely after getting hit by a truck while she was on her bike, calgary childrens hospital rocks. Hopfully she can go home tommorow."
Do you think that without the childrens hospital and the skilled doctors...if it were left entirely up to god, do you believe that the child would have receovered? Why would god place the child in harms way only to then heal the child? Why would god not heal so many other children who have otherwise not survived such injuries? There are so many questions raised by such statements of belief. I find these expressions of belief in god as delusional.
For many people, it is the belief in god that helps to cradle them and give them the comfort and security needed to travel the journey of life. How wonderful it has been to be free of that dependence on religion and belief in god to have a joyous and peaceful life.
I think asking questions is good. Its just expecting the answer to be a certain way that introduces a problem...
You are at a cross road. Some people need the concept of god as an answer to unanswerable questions. It is hard to face reality all a lone, If your belief brings you comfort than use it. But be careful that it does not impede you from excepting the truth. Here are a few of my thoughts.
Proof of God. One cannot prove that there is nor is not a god. There is no hard evidence. Therefore man may rationalize that there could be one and base their hopes on that. We can prove that man has made up theories about his existence and those theories are in conflict with each other. Therefore without any hard proof we are left with only speculation as to his existence. We do have hard evidence of mans manipulative powers to control individuals through a blind faith theology. I must conclude that he does not exist. If he does it means he does not care about us or he would let us know. All Kings want to be recognized.
The Word : If we accept Jesus or any other prophet as a man than we can analyze his teachings and keep the good that will befit society, If we accept them as a God or spokes person for God than we are compiled to follow them blindly accepting the good, the bad and the ridicules..
Coping with Life
When people cannot except the realities of life, they begin to fear, than fall back on superstitions to find relief.
Religion and Magic – Religion is a combination of magical practices. Magic can be divided into illusion, mentalist, and hypnotism an illusionist uses props to create the illusion that what you see is what is happening; a good example of this is Exodus 7 when Aaron’s rod becomes a serpent. The Egyptian priest repeats the miracle. A mentalist controls his audiences’ thoughts and a hypnotist controls his audiences’ actions. A church will use icons, religious symbolisms, oaths and covenants along with the repetitions of prayers, hymns, sermons, repetitive dialogs and appeal to the masses which are techniques the mentalist and hypnotist uses. The magic uses his talents to entertain and acknowledges that it is all a trick. The priest makes it into a miracle from his god. Magic and miracles are simply science that we do not understand.
Miracles – A religious mans miracle is like a gamblers win fall. They are both random.